human rights

What do a conservative leader and a radical feminist have in common? More than we would have guessed, it seems. Recently an Islamic group held an event at the University of Melbourne. The seating was arranged according to gender, as is common with such events. A reporter from the Australian newspaper decided to go along and search for controversies; the promise of discussing jihad at the event must have lured the newspaper into seeing an easy opportunity to vilify Muslims. This has become a lucrative industry nowadays.
This live blog recorded some of the activities that took place as part of the national convergence for refugee rights at Yongah Hill Detention Centre, April 26-28. Photos uploaded here 3:46pm, Sun April 28 WA Today: Northam protest ends in dance-off 1:30pm, Sun April 28
Compulsory income management of disadvantaged welfare recipients was slammed by speakers at a forum at the Bankstown Arts Centre on April 11. The forum, organised by the Say No to Government Income Management: Not in Bankstown, Not Anywhere campaign coalition, attracted about 40 people to hear representatives from unions and Aboriginal, migrant and youth groups call for a campaign to stop the extension of income management from July 1 this year.
The Broome community and environmentalists around Australia are celebrating an important victory. Oil and gas producer Woodside Petroleum said it would not go ahead with a gas hub at James Price Point in the Kimberley. Long-time Broome resident Nik Weavers told Green Left Weekly: “We've got rid of the one big thing we set out to do, which was to stop the project, so I feel really excited about that.” Weavers, a member of the Broome No Gas group, said: “I feel really warmed that so many other people have gathered [in Broome] and are feeling really good.”
The Northern Territory women’s policy minister, Alison Anderson, told a gathering at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne that “domestic violence has reached a crisis point”, the ABC reported on April 4.
The Victoria Refugee Action Collective held a forum on March 20 called “Persecuted in Sri Lanka, detained in Australia: the plight of Tamil refugees”. Former journalist Trevor Grant said the Australian public has been taught to be fearful of refugees. The language used to speak about them — including terms such as “illegal” and “border protection” — is designed to create fear. Grant, who is active in the Tamil Refugee Council, spoke of the use of torture and rape by Sri Lankan government forces against Tamils.
About 40 people attended public forum titled "Agent Orange campaign — experiences from Vietnam and Australia," on March 4. The forum was organised by Agent Orange Justice and heard from a delegation of speakers from the Vietnam Association for the Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA), and representatives from several Australia-based groups carrying out support work for Vietnamese victims of US chemical warfare during the Vietnam war.

The federal government said on February 23 it would introduce several changes to the 457 temporary visa program, to take effect from July. The proposals were applauded by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and criticised by big business. The 457 visa system is a highly exploitative, insecure and discriminatory visa system, originally introduced under the former John Howard government. Once elected, the ALP kept the visa class in place as a favour to big business, tinkering with it rather than abolishing it in favour of strengthening permanent skilled migration.

The Northern Territory government passed new mandatory sentencing laws on February 14 that will increase the minimum time offenders spend in prison and restrict judges’ right to suspend sentences for certain crimes. NT justice minister John Elferink told AAP on February 14: "These new mandatory minimum sentences correct the failed attempt by the former Labor government to be tough on crime."
A civil trial expected to last eight weeks in the federal court in Melbourne was averted on February 18 by an agreement between the Victoria Police and six African-Australians suing them for racial discrimination and racial profiling. The agreement mandates an enquiry, with submissions from the public, into allegations of police racism in the Flemington-North Melbourne area, which includes culturally diverse Housing Commission estates. The agreement also permits the six complainants to publicly tell their stories using police documents obtained through the court case.

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